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EWEA's Opinion

Wind power is creating stability in increasingly uncertain times

27.01.2010

It is now almost universally accepted that the so-called Copenhagen Accord cobbled together at the 11th hour by five nations attending the annual UN climate change conference in December is a colossal disappointment.

It is true that national self interests stopped the international community from reaching a new, strengthened post-Kyoto treaty on reducing destructive greenhouse gas emissions that are dangerously warming the atmosphere of our planet.

But it is also important to note that the Accord lacked transparency and the carbon reduction targets needed to begin moving humankind quickly away from the ravages associated with burning coal, oil and gas.

Considering that the Copenhagen Accord followed two years of fruitless international negotiations designed to broker a new agreement to rein in our global carbon footprint, there is now more uncertainty than ever before about how we create and use energy. Uncertainty is bad for people, the environment and business.

Just last week, the UN dropped its 31 January deadline for countries to state their climate change targets. With only a week to go until that deadline, only 20 of the 192 nations attending the COP-15 meeting in Denmark have formally signed onto the Copenhagen Accord.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, UN climate change chief Yvo de Boer told journalists at his first post-Copenhagen press briefing in Bonn that nations could now instead sign up to a new “soft deadline” when they wanted to.

“It’s fair to say that Copenhagen did not deliver the full agreement that the world needs to address the climate change problem,” de Boer said, adding the Accord did vow to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial times and suggested that $100 billion be provided annually for poor nations to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change after 2020.

De Boer also noted that while the Accord “didn’t produce the final cake . . . it left countries with all the right ingredients to bake a new one in Mexico” at the next scheduled UN climate change conference in December.

Despite de Boer’s glowing prediction of the world coming together to fight global warming, media reports in the US – the world’s number one economy and the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- indicate that the passage of proposed climate change legislation in that country’s Senate, which is necessary before Washington can sign onto any international treaty dealing with carbon emissions, seems to becoming more unlikely as time passes.

And back in Europe, which has long considered itself the world’s moral leader in the fight against global warming, the EU has decided, at least for now, that it will not unilaterally increase its cut in greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2020 to 30% from 20% since other major countries are not offering similarly strong targets.

Yet despite these disheartening developments, the International Energy Agency continues to see wind power as a bigger part of the solution to fighting global warming with a prediction that wind can generate 12% of global electricity by 2050, up from 2% today .

What all this means, of course, is that wind power is one of the few proven technologies that will continue to both expand and mitigate climate change while ineffective politicians keep stalling on a needed international agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

In these increasingly uncertain times, emissions-free wind power provides a sense of stability that the world drastically needs.

By Chris Rose, EWEA




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